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Friday, July 27, 2012

COVINGTON SCHOOLS CONSIDER DRUG TESTING STUDENTS

THE RIVER CITY NEWS MORE COVINGTON NEWS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
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by Michael Monks 
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"If we can stop one kid from doing drugs, that's one kid saved," said Covington School Board member Mike Fitzgerald. Covington Independent Public Schools is weighing the possibility of drug testing students involved in sports and other extra curricular activities. "I'd like to make sure our schools are as drug free as possible." 
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The five-member board was mostly in support of the idea of drug testing, though that support ranged from enthusiastic to tepid. "Then, what?," asked board member Krista Powers. "What do parents and the community believe is the role of the schools in this?"
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"I don't know if it's our place to address it educationally," said board member Denise Varney. "We have teachers we don't even test for drugs and we're going to test students who are participating in sports?"
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Janice Wilkerson, the executive director of student support services, and Ken Kippenbrock, the director of pupil personnel, presented a report to the board Thursday night as was requested following another meeting earlier in the summer where drug testing was discussed. Their findings indicate that sixth grade students in the district are almost entirely drug or alcohol-free but as those kids age to the twelfth grade, experimentation or regular use increases. During the 2011-12 academic year, 38% of twelfth grade seniors reported that they had smoked marijuana at least once in their lives.
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But the proposed drug testing would not apply to all students, only those participating in sports and other extracurricular activities, as dictated by law, though parents can ask the schools to test their children for drugs whether they are involved in activities or not. Kippenbrock presented findings from the past two academic years that indicate there were sixty-five instances of students being found in possession of, using, or under the influence of drugs across the district. Only eight of those cases involved students that participate in extracurricular activities. 
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The Department of Education's recent study on the issue played a role in Thursday night's presentation in which it was noted that the federal government no longer offers grants for drug testing because of the study's results. The problem for the government was that schools that did drug-test students did not show significantly better drug-use prevention than schools that did not test for drugs. "There was no effect on any group of students' reported intentions to use drugs in the future," Wilkerson said.
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Kippenbrock and Wilkerson included in their presentation what they found to be pros and cons of drug-testing. Pros: it would exhibit a clear no-use stand by the district; potential to prevent drug use; identify students using drugs. Cons: Distracts from other school/district issues; potential to prevent students joining extracurricular activities; only a small sample of students will be in the pool. 
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The next step is a series of focus groups involving parents, said superintendent Lynda Jackson who plans to work with Kippenbrock and Wilkerson to create the format that will likely include written and oral elements. The word will go out to all parents to consider participating on August 14 from 5:00PM - 7:00PM at Holmes Middle & High Schools. Ninety-two districts in Kentucky test their students for drugs and if Covington joins them the cost would likely be close to $5,000 annually to process what Kippenbrock expects to be around 250 kids. 
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"I'm supposed to do everything in my power to make sure students are safe," said Board Chairperson Glenda Huff, offering her support of drug testing. "We have to do this. There are families out there who don't know their kids are on drugs and it may be too late to get help for them. It could be saving someone's life."
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Board member Jerry Avery is also in support. "I'm all for it, one hundred percent," Avery said. "Drugs are in our schools, kids are using drugs. If you sit back and do nothing, what do you expect to happen? We have got to take a stand against it. If we don't, it's an injustice to the students."

1 comment:

  1. While I do not approve of students using drugs, I fail to see how random testing is going have a significant impact. Also what happens to the student that is using? Schools cannot take on the job of rehab. That is not the job of a school system. Also what of the student that does not use but is tested positivly because he/she was in the company of someone that did and as a result inhaled it secondhand.

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